Chapter Twelve, The Battle of Wits.
“Remus! Wait up!” A voice called. Remus who was walking down the hall who had his hands shoved in his pockets and a few books tucked under his arm, turned, his frown turning to a smile.
“Hello, Harry. What can I help you with?” Remus asked as Harry jogged to him. He stopped to catch his breath.
“I… I wanted to ask you something.” He panted, fidgeting nervously. He looked around, his glasses were slowly falling off his nose, and he pushed them back up.
The look he gave Remus, meant it was about something they should not mention out in the Hallway, where Students could hear any word of it. He nodded and motioned to his office, which happened to be right behind them. “Come on in.” He said, holding open the door. “Now.” He said closing the door behind him, locking and casting a silencing spell over the room. “What can I do for you?” He asked again as Harry set his things down on a table.
“Well, in fifth year Moody gave me, well he gave me this.” Harry whispered pulling something out of his pocket. Remus stepped forward, curious. It was a picture, of the Order, the first one, the one Lily and James had been in, along with many others who had died. He took it with a shaky hand. “You mentioned something about Hermione being in the Order when she was there…” Harry trailed off awkwardly. Remus smiled shyly, his fingers running over the edge of the photo, he had one as well, but he kept it hidden, never wanting to look at it again. “But she’s not there.” Harry said, looking down at the photo backwards. The people waved at him, all smiling happily.
“She took the picture.” Remus murmured. After a pregnant pause Remus continued. “We all had a picture, someone made copies so everyone got one. There was another picture also.” He murmured, pausing again to sigh and run a hand through his hair. “It was of Sirius, James, Lily, Gideon, Fabian, Molly, Arthur, and I. Sirius managed to pull Hermione in at the last minute, landing her right on me. Peter took the picture, so he wasn’t in it.” He whispered, the distant look in eyes told Harry he was remembering it. “I have it somewhere, I could find it for you, if you’d like.” He said and Harry shook his head. “Actually, I have two of them…” Remus trailed off silently.
Harry’s brow knotted at first, wondering why, and then he realized why. “Hermione’s” He whispered quietly only to have Remus nod silently.
Hermione pulled away from Sirius, who now looked very smug. She had seen out of the corner of her eye Remus march in the direction of the Portrait hole.
“Why, hello, Remus?” Lily said as she entered only to have Remus push past her and storm out.
Hermione turned her attention back to Sirius, who grinned at her. She knew everyone’s eye where on her, and Sirius. Even Lily was watching now in curiosity. Hermione felt an overpowering amount of hatred and loathing for Sirius Black at this moment and she could not resist the urge. A moment later, the sound of her hand smashing across his cheek echoed through the common room, glaring at the man in front of her.
His face was turned; his cheek was turning red where her hand had collided with his cheek. He raised his hand to his cheek and rubbed it. “You… You foul, horrible, wretched, vain, rude, misbegotten little knave!” She hissed. “Are you stupid? No calling you stupid would be an insult to stupid people.” She whispered gasps went around the room; it was Sirius’ turn to glare.
“Hermione? That was totally uncalled for.” Lily said from behind her. However, Hermione chose not to listen.
“What where you thinking! I’m not like all those other girls you’ve dated Sirius! I’m not just some girl you can go and kiss any time you know! I don’t throw myself at you! What in bloody Merlin’s name where you doing!?!” She cried.
“I was trying to make you happy.” He growled, still clutching his cheek, his face turning red in rage.
“Do us all a favor Sirius and keep your nose out of my business, that would make me very happy.” She hissed, emphasizing very, she turned on him and marched to the girl’s dorms. Some students turned back to what they where doing, other still watching the scene.
Lily turned to look at Sirius. “You alright, how is your cheek? She hit you pretty hard.” Lily asked as she reached out a hand to touch Sirius’ cheek but he yanked back from her. “Sirius, I’m just trying to help.” Lily whispered, letting her hand drop to her side. She saw James behind Sirius and raised an eyebrow.
James came up behind Sirius, grabbed the back of his collar and pulled, catching Sirius off guard. Sirius began muttering something as James pulled him up the stairs and Lily followed. “Are you barking mad?” James whispered as he let go of Sirius was they reached the top of the stairs. James opened the door the seventh year boy’s dorm. He grabbed Sirius again, by the collar and hurled him inside. He looked at Lily who was standing there. He grabbed her as well and pulled her along with him.
“Potter!” She cried, as she looked around the boy’s room, she had been in here before, only stomping up here after one of them placed a spell on her shower to make the water run cold. She never did figure out which one of them it was, Remus would not tell her. She crossed her arms. “What is this all about?” She asked, looking from James to Sirius, who just now plopped himself down onto a messy bed. She looked around the room in disgust. “You boys are pigs.” She muttered looking around seeing dirty and clean clothes all over the place, books scattered. However only seeing one bed in the corner clean and neat, everything in that space was clean. It was Remus’ bed.
Sirius ruffled his hair, looking around his eyes grew wide, Lily followed his look, and before she could find what he was looking at, he hurled himself into the air and landing on the ground with a thud, gathering up whatever it was, it looked like old parchment, that he just stuffed between two pairs of shorts. She wrinkled her nose as he clutched them to his chest, his face turning pink.
“Sirius.” James growled. Sirius stood up, and walked towards his bed, stuffing whatever it was under his covers.
“I don’t want Lily seeing my under things.” Sirius spat harshly glaring at James, who rolled his eyes bringing a hand to cradle his head as if he had a headache.
“You are absolutely hopeless.” James muttered.
“Hey!” Sirius yelled, “I don’t need to be insulted anymore tonight alright!” he yelled, throwing his hands up in the air.
“What were you thinking exactly!” James whispered harshly, trying to control his anger.
“What?” Sirius asked, James’ head snapped up and he glared at Sirius, Lily nearly fell over, wondering how he could be that think headed.
“ Kissing Hermione you bloke!” James yelled, his frustration reaching it’s peak. “While Remus was right there!” He said waving his arms around, he advanced on Sirius, who was looking a little frightened by this, he had no where to go, he backed up against his bed.
“James…” He whispered, reaching out to push James away. “Look, I had good reason.” Sirius stammered.
“Good reason! Good reason!” James cried. He laughed bitterly. He grabbed Sirius by the collar of his shirt, his knuckles turning white. “You know how much Remus likes her!” James whispered his voice low and dangerous. “Granted he’s been in the Hospital wing all week, yes. But you remember what he said that night. He couldn’t explain it remember. He felt an odd sort of connection towards her, a sort of tug.” James said tugging on Sirius’ shirt.
“Of course I remember that.” Sirius whispered, his voice low. “But you know Remus, he wouldn’t make a move, not even if we gave him a little push, or bit him in the arse.” Sirius said. James had let go of him now, staring at him as if he were mad.
“You… so that was your brilliant plan?” James said throwing his arms in the air again, turning to face Lily who was looking utterly confused. She opened her mouth to say something but James stopped her. “Don’t say anything. Merlin knows we’ll be better off if you don’t say a word.” James said, and Lily for once did not argue, but closed her mouth and watched. “Thank you.” He whispered and Lily’s eyes widened and she nodded. “So kissing Hermione, in front of Remus was your brilliant plan.” James uttered darkly staring at Sirius.
“No. My plan is taking action as we speak.” He said, grinning smugly.
“Damn it Sirius!” James yelled, kicking one of the bedposts. He grimaced, and glared at Sirius.
“James calm down. My plan was to simply kiss Hermione, have Remus watch, and have Remus run, as he normally does. You know what he’ll do now.” Sirius said, smiling, James’ eyes widened and his frown turned into a sly smile, he was finally grasping Sirius’ idea. “He’ll think over what happened, and he’ll think I’m after her, he’ll come around in a day or two, and soon enough the two of them will be planning a wedding and having little pudgy werewolf babies that love to read. ” Sirius said smirking.
James shook his head, and Lily spoke up now. “What if it doesn’t work.” She said, James’ grin faded and looked at Sirius, who’s smile faded as well. “I mean what if, what if Remus backs off, thinking you like her a lot. You know how quiet he is.” Lily said, looking at both of them.
“She’s got a point there mate.” James said and Sirius’ arms fell to his side. He looked to be thinking, his head snapped up and grin on his face again.
“Well, then Lily, it will be your job, if Remus does back off, to push Hermione into talking to him. That should do it. Now we all have to play a part in this, no telling Peter, Merlin knows he will ruin things, blurting things out like he does. Now then, you two, will have to act as normal, I have to try to get back on Hermione’s good side. You two will have to just talk with Remus, and Hermione, trying to get them to talk to one another. I’ll have to make peace with Moony though, you two also have to act as though you’re a little upset with me.” He said and Lily snorted.
“Your mad Black. James tell him he is mad.” Lily said looking to James, who’s eyes widened, and Sirius smiled.
“You…” He whispered staring at her; Sirius patted him on the back.
“It’s not the end of the world mate. So she called you by your first name.” He said laughing.
Lily glared at both of them, realizing she had called James by his first name. She shook her head, saying to herself it was just a mistake, a common mistake, and a slip of the tongue. “I should go check on Hermione.” She uttered quickly, practically running out of the dorm.
“Now look what you did.” James growled. “You scared her away. She could have been planning to confess her undying love for me!” James whined as he set his face in his hands. “You ruin everything.”
“Give her time mate, give her time.” Sirius said.
The next morning Hermione had avoided Remus, Remus avoided Hermione and both had avoided Sirius. Sirius though only wanted to make his plan work, and try to make peace with both of them. Sirius walked into the Great Hall people whispering all around; obviously, the news had traveled fast. Seeing Remus sitting across from James who was chatting quietly with him, and Hermione farther down the table reading the Daily Prophet surrounded by other Gryffindor 7th year girls.
Sirius walked past Remus and James, James’ eyes looking up and following him. Sirius walked past with out a word and stopped behind Hermione. The girls around looked up at him curious. Hermione turned a little, and glared at him. “What may I help you with Mr. Black?” She asked in a mock sweet tone. He frowned as the girls around him snickered.
“I’ve come to-” he began but she cut him off.
“What come to kiss me again?” She said crossing her arms, glaring at him, and raising an eyebrow. Sirius frowned again.
“No.” He said sourly. He uncrossed his arms and waved his hand a rose appeared. He handed it to her, she did not look thrilled. Students around began to watch the scene, wondering what Sirius was up to now.
“You’re charm and roses wont work.” She said stiffly, taking the rose and crumpling it. Students could be heard gasping, and the girls around her just watched. Annie’s mouth had dropped, Lily whom was sitting next to her, lifted it and whispered something in her ear, and Annie flushed and returned her attention to the scene at hand.
“My, charm and roses.” Sirius muttered. He was getting slightly annoyed by her now. The insults last night and now her insulting his charm, and the rose.
“You know what they say girls, little things affect little minds.” She said turning away and taking a sip from her goblet, a few girls laughed, some just stared, thinking this is Sirius Black, she’s insulting Sirius Black!
Sirius heard this and glared, that was it. He was done trying to be nice and make peace with her, for this morning anyway. He could not however resist the urge to tell her. “You know I was planning on making peace with you after last night.” He said leaning over and whispering in her ear.
Hermione stopped her eyes from widening and just made a smart remark. “Pardon me Sirius, but you've obviously mistaken me for someone who gives a damn.” She said, he glared at her, and gasps chorused around the Great Hall, almost everyone was watching even some Slytherins. Snape seemed to be getting a kick out of it.
Something in his head popped, he felt this brain oozing, he could not help it, and he looked over to James who was staring at him shaking his head ‘no’. His hands balled into fists at his sides and he held back what he could. “You little…” He whispered, stopping himself before he could let out any vulgar words and curses.
“Can’t even finish a sentence? This is no battle of wits between you and me, Sirius. I never pick on an unarmed man.” She said smiling when his face turned red in anger. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, not positive at what to say to that. He had a good comeback, but along with his brain, it oozed too. “Sirius,” She said sighing and turning to face him, a look of pure rage and almost evil in her eyes, and then she said, “I don’t want to make a fool out of you. Why should I take all the credit for it, your quite capable of making making yourself look like a fool without my help.” She whispered, smiling now.
“Lily can’t you do something to stop them, your Head Girl.” Annie whispered as she watched something in Sirius’ eye disappear. Any moment now she knew he would explode, in order to save what pride he had left, no matter how embarrassing it would be.
Lily shook her head. “They aren’t really breaking any rules, she’s just insulting him and he’s, well he’s going to be insulting her any moment, I can see it.” Lily whispered. Just down the table, Remus had asked James the same thing.
“Prongs, can’t you do anything?” Remus whispered, as he looked at the two of them out of the corner of his eye. James shook his head.
“No, I can’t. Even if I could I would have to take points away, and we are already behind the Slytherins. I should take away ten points from that greasy git, he looks as though Christmas has come early.” James said nodding in the direction of Snape. Remus looked, and sure enough, he was snickering along with the other Slytherins.
“I’m trying to be reasonable here and reach your mind.” Sirius said through clenched teeth. Then he smirked, he finally had a come back, well of the sort. “ Tell me where is it currently located?” He asked, Hermione glared this time, standing up. The battle of wits had begun.
“My mind?” She said, poking him the chest, causing him to step back a little. “Why don’t you tell everyone what you know. I’m sure it will only take ten seconds!” She said, laughing bitterly. Everyone in the Great Hall was watching now, even the teachers, who seemed to enjoy the little display.
“Hmm, ten seconds you say, well I’m sure with you it will only take two, with that little pea brain of yours.” Sirius said patting her on the head.
“Have you ever wondered what life would be like you’d gotten enough oxygen at birth?” She snapped back quickly. Students around chorused an ‘ouch’.
“I do hope you are sterile, so you don’t have to pass on the rottenness of your being.” Sirius said and smiled at her glare.
“All of your ancestors must number in the millions; it's hard to believe that many people are to blame for producing you.” Hermione spat, knowing full well this would hurt Sirius, because she knew he hated his family. He did not say anything for a moment staring at her; she saw the look of hatred in his eyes.
“Don't you realize…” Sirius began, Hermione froze, “that there are enough people to hate in the world already without your working so hard to give us another?” He spat. She could not get anything out, because he continued. “You know how they say opposites attract. I hope you find someone who is good-looking, intelligent and cultured.” Sirius said, girls around gasped.
“ You probably wouldn’t know what those words meant if they danced naked in front of your face. Although you probably don’t know the meaning of most common words.” Hermione spat back. Ha! Take that you bloody idiot. She thought.
“Why don't you go to the library and brush up on your ignorance?” Sirius said sourly.
“Your mouth is getting far to big for your muzzle.” She spat loudly. James and Remus had stood up at this, Sirius stood there, and his face had gone white. Lily stood up as well. “Did your parents ever ask you to run away from home?” She continued as James was about ready to leap over the table, as was Lily. Remus stepped away from the bench. “I’m wondering, since you always have your nose to the ground, how’s life in the gutter.” She asked. She was so outraged at him she could not stop the words from coming out of her mouth. Remus was next to her now, using his iron grip to hold back Sirius as he made a lunge for her.
“That’s enough!” Lily screamed. “Ten points from both of you!” She said, and James gawked at her. “What else was I supposed to do James? He was about to jump on her.” Lily hissed as James came and stood next to her.
“I know, but she…” James said only to see Hermione practically running out of the Great Hall. Sirius wrenched himself free of Remus and marched out. “I should go follow him, make sure he doesn’t commit murder...or suicide.” James muttered walking after them. Luckily, it was Sunday.
“Sirius!” James called as he got outside the doors. He saw Sirius sitting on a staircase not too far away. He heard sobbing, and looked around, he knew it was not Sirius. Sirius motioned him over, motioning him to be quiet.
“It’s her.” Sirius whispered. James could tell that Sirius was guilty about saying all those things, but at the same time furious about what she had said to him. “She’s on the next flight of stairs crying.” Sirius murmured quietly so she would not hear him. James stood up and was about to go up when Sirius grabbed his robes. “What are you doing?” Sirius hissed. “Your going to go comfort her after what she said about me? She should have practically told the whole the school.” Sirius whispered harshly.
“We don’t know if she does know, and we aren’t going to make it seem like we know what she meant. Alright? I’m going up there to help her back to the common room and tell her to talk to Moony. Now get out to the Quidditch pitch. We have tryouts in twenty minutes.” James said, Sirius huffed and walked towards the nearest exit. James walked up quietly; he walked to the landing and stopped. Near the top of the stairs, just as Sirius had said, there was Hermione. She was stretched out with her head in her hands on the stairs in front of him. He frowned, ruffling his hair; he walked quietly up to her and sat down next to her.
He reached out a hand and touched her shoulder. He heard her gasp. “Please, just leave me alone.” She whispered. James did not take his hand away.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that.” James whispered, Hermione looked up, her hair was matted to her face and her eyes were red from crying.
“James.” She breathed. “I didn’t…” She cried, hurling herself into his arms. He wrapped them around her, patting her hair. “I didn’t mean too…” She whispered. “I didn’t mean to say those things to him, to be so harsh. They just came out.” She whispered. “He probably hates me now.” She whispered, sniffling. James heard a noise, not to far below them, like someone knocking something over, because they were in shock. He knew it was Sirius, even though he had told Sirius to leave, he knew Sirius had to return, just to listen in.
“No, he doesn’t hate you.” James said, hearing a sort of muffled snort. He glared down at the stairs. “You didn’t do anything wrong Hermione. You where just angry, and in being angry you vented out all your anger on the one person who made you angry, even though he was trying to apologize. I think you just hurt his ego.” James said simply.
“But why did he kiss me…” She whispered, James couldn’t answer that. However, before he could come up with a quick lie she had continued. “I mean… and right in front of Remus.” She whispered, her arms still around James, he was still stroking her hair. After a quiet pause, Hermione continued. “I know I shouldn’t be telling you this, that it was just between me and Remus, and that’s why he is probably so upset, but we kissed yesterday, when I went to see him in the hospital wing, I only meant to kiss his cheek. But he turned his head. Oh what am I going to do?” She cried and pressed her face into James’ chest. He heard something below them that oddly sounded like Sirius slapping his hand to his head in stupidity.
“I say we go up to the Common room and you and I talk about this. Where no one can hear us.” James whispered. He stood up, helping Hermione stand as well. They made their way back to the common room, both not saying a word. The truth was James did not know what to say, and Hermione did not know how to say, what she wanted to say.
“So.” James said as they entered the common room to find it empty.
“I have to talk to Remus, and then apologize to Sirius.” She whispered. “Is Remus mad at Sirius?” She asked and James nodded.
“You see, the two of them never get into fights. Sirius will do something to piss Remus off, Remus will tell him how stupid he was, make angry remarks and so on. Remus will get angry when Sirius says something smart back. He will then go to the library and read some book, or go to the kitchens have a cup of tea, think it over, and then go find Sirius and apologize to him. Even though it was Sirius who started it all in the first place, by, well being Sirius. It’s always Remus who apologizes, Remus has never gotten into a fight with Sirius, Peter or I. I just don’t think he’s capable or dealing with the after math of them, the awkwardness you know? He has a hard time trusting people, and getting to know them.” James said and Hermione nodded. “My best bet is you’ll find him in the library.” James said standing now. Hermione stood as well wiping her cheeks and fixing her hair.
Before he knew it, her arms where around him, she stepped up and kissed his cheek. James flushed a light pink. “Thank you. It was really sweet what you did.” Hermione whispered as James hugged her back. He smiled. “You didn’t have to come after me, or Sirius you know.” She whispered as the pulled away from each other. “You’re a lot sweeter than Lily made you out to be.” Hermione said and giggled at the look he gave her.
“Yes well that is Lily…” He said trailing off awkwardly blushing profoundly. “Plus, I am Head Boy, I couldn’t just stay in there and come out to find one, or both of you dead.” James said laughing, Hermione laughed as well, which is what he had hoped she would do.
“Yes well, I best be off to the library to talk to Remus.” She said and made for the portrait whole. James smiled and walked after her.
“Well I’ve got Quidditch try-outs to get too. Well I’ll see you later. Good luck.” James said as he headed in a different direction as Hermione.
“See you.” She said and walked quickly towards the library. Once she got there, she searched the many rows of books, her favorite spots, the tables, not finding him. She was about to give up when she heard someone muttering on the other side of the bookshelf. She was just reaching for a book when she heard Remus.
“How could he?” Remus whispered, Hermione smiled and peeked in between the shelves, sure enough, it was Remus. He had some book open, his face was flushed pink, and his eyes were wide. He seemed to be thinking. Hermione walked quietly over to the end of the row and turned, to see Remus standing there, he dropped the book he was holding immediately as he saw her. Flushing an even darker shade of pink.
“How could who?” Hermione asked curiously as she stepped closer.
“How could Sirius.” Remus whispered.
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